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Matar Pulao

Asma Khan

Lesson time 15 min

Add some extra excitement to your plain white rice and learn how to make this simple, straightforward, and ultra flavorful side dish. ‘Matar’ is Hindi for green peas and ‘pulao’ means pilaf, and when you put those two words together, you get ‘matar pulao’ or ‘peas pulao’ the classic and insanely popular Indian rice and peas dish. If you want to learn more about masalas (spice blends), this lesson is a must watch!

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Preview

– So now I’m going to teach you how to make matar pulao. But this is also a tutorial on how to actually soak and cook rice. So it’s really, really important. I’m just measuring the rice, approximately. So what is really important is to wash the rice well and to soak it. The first rule is… I’m gonna lift this up, and I want you to see how narrow the tip is of the rice. It is super, super, super delicate. Now what happens is, when you actually wash the rice brutally… Or I’ve seen people actually washing it under running water. What happens is that the tips break off immediately. You cannot see it. It breaks and goes in there. This is your glue. ‘Cause when you start cooking that rice, that little tip is gonna cook super quick. Because it’s hardly anything. That is glue. Your rice is sticky, not because your quality of rice wasn’t good, or your pan, or you. It’s because you were too brutal. You’ve gotta fill this with water. With cold water. Not with hot water. And as if it’s a cake, you move in one direction. Do not do this and that, because what’s gonna happen is the rice is gonna bang against each other. They’re swinging from one side to the other. There’s going to be… It’s like bumper cars. It’s gonna collide. It’s gonna collide, and they’re again gonna break the tips. I’m just gonna fill it with water. I’m not letting the water hit the rice. I’m softing the blow. Now there. Move in one direction. You’ve got to just very gently wash the rice. And you gotta keep washing it till it’s clear. It’s getting there. It’s almost done. I think now is the last time. Okay, so now, I’m going to essentially leave the rice to soak. And I’m gonna explain why. The rice grain is now going to get fatter. It’s absorbing all the water. If it has soaked for half an hour, up to two hours, that water has gone into the rice, because the rice is so porous. So then when it’s ready to cook, it doesn’t have to sit in that hot water. Very quickly, it’ll expand. Not only will your rice not stick because it’s cooking really fast, it’s going to be a bigger grain. These are very little effortless things that you can do, that just elevates your rice cooking to a different standard. We’re going to make matar pulao, which is something that, you know, was always made in my family in all winter weddings, festivals. Because of this. This, fresh peas, you only get in winter. Frozen peas is a very new phenomena in India as well. But the bad bit was when we had big family weddings, whole night we were made to sit and pop peas. Because in the morning they would actually make matar pulao for the big party. Let me get a bowl because we’re just gonna need one cup. If you are using fresh peas, you need to put it at the same time as the rice. If you’re using frozen peas, put it at the end. If the peas is a bit big and yellow, don’t use it. I was suggested to my sons to pop peas. They were like, “You crazy? You just buy it frozen.” I’ve got my peas ready. Now I’m going to drain the rice that has been soaking. Just as gently as possible, get all the water out and get the grain out. I’m just gonna put it here, and I’m going to, as gently as possible, get the rest of the rice out. Just gonna rinse this in case I need to use it for something else. Again, this is what you should do. Do not shake it. Do not shake it like that. I’m gonna bring out the masalas because the rice and peas are ready to go. Now bring out the masalas that I’m gonna make the pulao with. Just got to also just go through what they are. Okay, so this… Okay, this is an impressive looking one. This is cassia bark, often incorrectly called cinnamon. This is Dalchini, and it is extremely different from cinnamon. Cinnamon is sweet and soft. This is quite pungent and strong. This has got a slight nuttiness, but musky, strong woody flavor. So this, of course, is Tez Patta. The translation is fire leaf. This is not bay leaf. This is Indian bay leaf. This is what we use in Indian food. Same kind of pungent, strong flavors. This is green cardamom. You do also have black cardamom, but we are not using black cardamom here. Not really native to India, and not to Bengal, this grows in south India. Heavily used in any kind of Mughlai food. Persian influence. Cardamom, big thing there. We do use it quite a lot now, especially for desserts, biryanis, pulaos. And this is clove. Clove needs a bit of heat. Clove oil is used for two things. It’s a very healing spice. It is antibacterial. It is also very good for pain. This is one of the kind of strong spices, so you don’t use it as much. I always use less cloves. Cloves is a bit too strong for me. Please do not use powdered spices. They don’t have a life. I need a slotted spoon like this because I wanna leave as much of the spiced oil behind. And I’ve got a plate ready. You need to put around this much. Three tablespoons, a little bit more, of oil. Cassia bark, which I’m gonna break. This is more than I want. That bay leaf, cassia bark, cardamom and clove. Just gonna remove… At some point the clove is going to pop. And see the color? The difference. That has swollen up. All the oils of the clove have been released, and they’ve gone into that oil. So see? You can see the color, the change in color. We’ve got the oil with all these fabulous spices infused in there. And then we are gonna add some onions to it, so I’m gonna do the onions now. I put the oil off. This is very important. I’m gonna grab the onions. Quickly gonna slice it. This is enough onions. So now I’m going to put the oil back on. Gonna put the onions in there. You got to watch this to make sure that it doesn’t burn. And if any onion has burned, just remove it. You want it to be caramelized. You do not want it to be burned. It’s not ready yet, but I’m gonna put the heat off, so this gives me no tension. I’m just gonna get it out and put it here. If all your onions are not evenly colored like this, don’t worry. Just go through it, pick through it, pick out all the black ones. I’m gonna put the rice in here, but I’m gonna put back the fire on. Try and reserve as much of the oil as you can still in the pot because now you’re going to put in the rice. This was the rice that’s been soaking. Now it’s two cups of water. I’m going on low heat because I’m going to warm up the water. The water that goes in is double. So if you’ve got one cup of rice, it’s two cups of water. But it’s quite important, don’t try and estimate this, because otherwise you’re gonna have a stodgy mess at the end of it. Do not be rough with the rice. Be as gentle as possible. Two cups of water. Now very, very gently stir it. And now you can add back all of this. A bit of salt. Remember you have to put the peas in at this point because you’re making with raw peas. If you’re doing frozen, you don’t need to do that. I’m now going to just… I’m gonna scatter with my hands because I don’t want the peas to be sitting in one place. I’m going to only mix this once just to get the peas down because the peas are sitting on the top. So I’m just gonna mix it once. Again, only in one direction. There’s still a lot of liquid, so I’m just gonna let that be. Essentially, you’re waiting for all the fluid to go in. I would now cover it. Lower it. I’m going now put this off and leave it to rest for around 10, 15 minutes because most of the liquid has been absorbed. There’s still some amount of liquid there, which I do need for it to absorb. I don’t wanna open it because I’m gonna lose that. So, you know, tempting as it is to open it, you’re gonna lose the liquid in there. I have a fork ready. I’m gonna open it. And then I’m gonna very lightly fluff it. I’m going to just taste for salt. Mm-hmm. Great. I’m gonna get something to take it out in. I’m going to now take out the matar pulao. I’m gonna leave behind the bay leaf and the Dalchini,. which is the cinnamon stick, the cassia bark, because it’s already done its job. Here it is, the matar pulao, or peas pulao.

About the Instructor

Asma Khan, owner of famed London eatery Darjeeling Express and bestselling cookbook author of “Asma’s Indian Kitchen” teaches her favorite family recipes, inspired by her childhood in Kolkata, India. The chef, restaurateur, and activist is the first UK-based chef to be featured on Netflix’s Emmy-nominated Chef’s Table and, in 2019, was listed number 1 on Business Insider’s ranking of “100 Coolest People in Food and Drink”. Join Asma on a nostalgic culinary journey to explore the smells, flavors, and ingredients of her ancestral Bengali roots.

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